LCQ12: Marine refuse
It has been reported that in recent months, vessels were frequently found illegally dumping various kinds of refuse in Mainland waters near Lantau, and some of the refuse was carried into Hong Kong waters by ocean currents, causing heavy pollution. Despite the follow-up actions taken by the Government and the Mainland authorities, marine refuse with packaging printed with simplified Chinese characters has still been found on a number of beaches in Hong Kong. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the quantity of marine refuse collected by the government departments concerned in Hong Kong waters in each of the past six months (with a tabulated breakdown by eastern waters and western waters);
(2) of the number of complaints received by the authorities in the past 24 months about illegal dumping of refuse in Hong Kong waters, and the number of prosecutions instituted against the persons concerned;
(3) as the Government has indicated that it would discuss issues relating to marine environment with the Mainland authorities through the Hong Kong-Guangdong Marine Environmental Management Special Panel set up in October last year, of the details of the relevant efforts; and
(4) whether it received, in the past 12 months, any notification from the Mainland authorities regarding illegal dumping of refuse found in Mainland waters near Hong Kong; if it did, of the details, including the law enforcement efforts made by the Mainland authorities, as well as the respective numbers of such cases uncovered and those in which the law-breakers were prosecuted?
(1) As pointed out in the Marine Refuse Study conducted by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in 2013-14, shorelines in Tuen Mun, Tsuen Wan, Southern and Islands Districts in general tend to accumulate more refuse in the wet season. Moreover, refuse accumulated at local shorelines would be washed to sea more easily during the summer when rainfalls are high, and certain refuse would be carried by the outflow of the Pearl River into the waters and coasts of Hong Kong. The Marine Department (MD), the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department are responsible for collecting and cleaning up floating refuse and shoreline refuse washed ashore. During the period between July and December 2016, the total amount of marine refuse collected (*) each month is tabulated below:
|Month||Total amount of marine refuse collected (tonnes)|
* Regarding the statistics on the total amount of marine refuse collected by the departments concerned, a breakdown by eastern waters and western waters of Hong Kong is not available.
(2) MD is responsible for handling complaints regarding floating refuse in Hong Kong waters and enforcement against marine littering at sea. Over the past two years (from January 2015 to December 2016), MD received 526 and 888 relevant complaints respectively, and instituted 30 prosecutions against marine littering at sea.
(3)&(4) Hong Kong and Guangdong agreed in September 2016 to set up the Hong Kong-Guangdong Marine Environmental Management Special Panel, under the framework of the Hong Kong-Guangdong Joint Working Group on Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection, to enhance exchange and communication on various regional marine environmental matters. These would include, among other things, setting up a notification and alert system on marine refuse issues and combating illegal marine dumping activities. The Special Panel was formally established and convened its first working meeting in October 2016 to discuss matters concerning the setting up of the notification and alert system on marine refuse as well as the follow-up actions on combating illegal marine dumping activities. Relevant work has been started proactively. In last October, the Department of Environmental Protection of Guangdong Province advised the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) of Hong Kong that before the Special Panel was established, Mainland law enforcement agencies had already commenced operations both at sea and on land to proactively track down the illegal dumping activities. Patrol had also been stepped up to vigorously combat such activities. Vessels and personnel suspected of illegal activities had been detained and illegal marine dumping curbed. The EPD will continue to enhance exchange and communication with relevant Mainland authorities on various regional marine environmental matters via the Special Panel.
Ends/Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Issued at HKT 11:21
Issued at HKT 11:21